Salmonella outbreak emphasizes importance of small producers and homegrown vegetables.

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chickenman

chickenman

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Contaminated Chicken: Thoughts For Organic Gardeners

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Salmonella outbreak emphasizes importance of small producers and homegrown vegetables.


No doubt you, like us, have been following the recent news about contaminated chicken. No need to go into the details. But for those who need to catch up, Portland’s The Oregonian has done a good job covering the story and food-issue columnist Mark Bittman over at The New York Times has provided not only background but insight into the story behind the story.
The closing during the recent government shutdown of the Centers For Disease Control’s PulseNet system, which monitors food poisoning outbreaks and pinpoints causes, certainly hindered the tracking and tracing of the problem but wasn’t the reason for the problem. The Food Safety and Inspection Service (F.S.I.S.) of the Department of Agriculture (U.S.D.A.), shut down or not, doesn’t seem to be acting in consumers’ best interest. As Bittman puts it, “This is not a shutdown issue, but a ‘We care more about industry than we do about consumers’ issue.”
Proof of that resides in the fact that the culprit, Foster Farms, hasn’t been asked to shut down or even pull its product from grocery store shelves (one retailer, CostCo, took it upon itself to pull some of its chicken). If it’s true that there are 25 incidents of sickness for every one reported, then we can figure that at least 7,500 people have suffered the effect from the current outbreak, extrapolated from the 300 illnesses reported by the middle of the month.
This current contaminated chicken scare has brought some interesting facts to light. It’s estimated that a quarter of chicken sold in markets contains salmonella and that over 20 % contains Campylobacter a bacteria which causes diarrhea, cramping, abdominal pain, and fever within two to five days after exposure (it’s the most common cause of diarrhea in the U.S.). The current outbreak consists of 40% antibiotic resistant bacteria, a fact that calls into question the practice of feeding copious amounts of antibiotics to factory-raised chickens not only to prevent disease but to increase weight gain. That means that 4 of every ten people sickened aren’t being helped by antibiotics. The overuse of antibiotics in our corporate food production has been a problem for decades.
As several of my friends have pointed out, there’s never been a better time to consider going vegetarian, or short of that, avoiding anything — and that includes vegetables — raised on a factory farm. Or maybe starting your own backyard chicken operation.
What impact does this issue have on the organic gardener? Consider the rise of small, natural chicken and other meat producers. Their products, often available direct from the farmer or at farmers’ markets, offer an alternative to the mass-produced, cruelly raised, over-medicated meats produced by big agriculture. And the raising of the chickens is only part of the problem. Their processing (read “butchering”) in factory-like conditions is also questionable and, in the recent outbreak, most likely the source of the contamination.
Small scale, local processors who have better control over their packaging operations, are definitely preferable. Of course, controlling your own conditions — raising your own chickens — allows you to guarantee that your chickens have been raised properly and butchered in the most sanitary conditions possible. But back yard chicken raising isn’t possible for most of us. Buying from small producers is.
Taking control of your food is what organic gardening is all about. If you think that contamination is a problem only with meat, diary, and eggs, remember the spinach, lettuce, cilantro and cantaloupe salmonella outbreaks that occurred just last year. As food writer Michael Pollan has pointed out, any type of factory farming, including the large-scale production of vegetables, has major negative impacts.
Organic farmers and gardeners also need to take precautions. Manure plays a large role in organic growing and that means that we must know our sources, process it correctly, and apply it with care; never near produce that’s approaching harvest. We can do that because we’re in control. When we allow giant growers and corporations to have that control, we’re risking our health and the health of our loved ones. We can be responsible, even if factory farms and those who over see them aren’t. You want reasons to grow your own fruits and vegetables or, short of that, to obtain as much food as possible from small, local producers? Consider chicken.
 
fishwhistle

fishwhistle

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We had four of the foster farms chickens from the affected central valley plants frozen in our freezer,we found out by looking at the codes on the packaging broadcast by our local news,we returned all four to the market we bought them from,stater bros.Last week while shopping we noticed the WHOLE reefer case loaded with the same chickens with the same code(processing plant) at a reduced price,.79 cents a lb. and they are featured in their ad again this week?WTF stater bros?We are not eating any chicken until we can source a safe place to obtain it from,What the hell do we even have an USDA for anyways?just another waste of tax dollars.
 
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kolah

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I just build me a new chicken coop , fenced in a run and got 3 free layers. I passed on ducks (I donlt like duck eggs) I plan on getting me about a dozen pullets, probably Buff Orps..or a good dual purpose breed (maybe Brahma's?)

End the big commercial corps peacefully...don't buy their shit....and raise your own.
 
Seamaiden

Seamaiden

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We had four of the foster farms chickens from the affected central valley plants frozen in our freezer,we found out by looking at the codes on the packaging broadcast by our local news,we returned all four to the market we bought them from,stater bros.Last week while shopping we noticed the WHOLE reefer case loaded with the same chickens with the same code(processing plant) at a reduced price,.79 cents a lb. and they are featured in their ad again this week?WTF stater bros?We are not eating any chicken until we can source a safe place to obtain it from,What the hell do we even have an USDA for anyways?just another waste of tax dollars.

Please tell me you called that market!

I was astonished when I read that those fucking Foster Farms chickens, which I have flat out REFUSED to purchase because they are cruel and abusive to the birds (story to follow, but I got rid of the pix), had infected people as far away as Puerto Rico with their salmonella chickens. Huge what the fuck for me, the island has chickens running wild all over the place, why the fuck are they importing God damned California sick-ass chickens? And the thing is that Puerto Ricans are of two camps--they tend to be UBER-patriotic (most if not all of my family), or UBER-paranoid/conspiracy theorist and feel that the U.S is trying to kill them. Given the history, that's understandable, moreso than the hot patriotism. The balloons the DEA uses to watch for drug runners are believed by many to be spraying some sort of poison on them. Yet, they eat Foster Farms. Ok!

So, what got me off FF chickens was when, one night I went to prepare one of my famous roasted chickens. I opened the package, and what I saw broke my heart. Its legs were broken. No big deal, right? Except there was horrible bruising all around the legs, on the breast, the back, the wings, one of which was also badly broken with bruising. And, here's the thing--dead things don't bruise, it's gotta be ALIVE for bruising to occur. So, this poor bird was alive and someone basically beat the shit out of it. I took photos of it and called and then followed up with an email+pix of the bird to Foster Farms. Wanna know what their reaction was? They offered me discount coupons to buy more of their God damned beat up birds. Needless to say, I refused, and then I went and voted for Proposition 2 the moment I was able. I stopped eating chicken for a long time until the organic, humanely raised and butchered chicken became more easily available in our locale.

Dead things don't bruise. Remember that!


Btw, that was the WORST tasting chicken I'd ever had. So I firmly believe in the idea that a happy and calm animal tastes a lot better than a panicked, hurting animal. Thinking about it still breaks my heart. It ain't the dyin', it's what happened before the dyin'.
 
fishwhistle

fishwhistle

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I didnt need to call them they already knew and by the way we were at costco last night and they sell the same FF chicken with the same plant codes on it!I talked with a costco butcher and he told me they really dont have a choice because they are the only big supplier.Stater bros did have some randall farms chicken but only leg/thigh quarters,were done with chicken until we can find a safe supplier locally,theres one good butcher shop about 10-15 miles from us so im gonna check them out when im over that way.They need a CSA for meat products,lol.
 
Seamaiden

Seamaiden

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WTF???? But, here's the problem for most producers--there are only a relatively few meat packers, and I believe the problems began at the meat packing plant, no?

And Costco is doing their level best to not touch this, but the south San Francisco store recalled their Kirkland brand chickens. What does that tell you?

And, YES, CSAs for meat and dairy are absolutely necessary, but many producers and processors are under attack from the FDA and USDA.

Does your local Costco have Coleman organic? We've been pretty happy with it so far, even if it's not as flavorful as the birds we got from chickenman. THOSE tasted like real chicken.
 
chickenman

chickenman

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Cluck Cluck...
Our latest chickens for meat are a high breed. They come from a French breed Called labelle Rouge.
All other meat chickens are a Cornish cross that are bread to eat, grow quick, shit and die. They grow so fast leg issues and high mortality is common.
This breed grows slow and IMO gives the bird time to grow slower thus allowing complete development of the meat, processing available nutrition, organic slowly, not just sitting near the feeder, eating and shittin it, slow digestion, absobing and utilization is better...than eat shit die,,,
Can take 2 weeks longer but the quality of the meat is outstanding compared to the standard Cornish cross...
 
fishwhistle

fishwhistle

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Costcos kirkland chickens are foster farms too,look for the plant code on the label.One thing i will say is that costco called the customers that bought the chickens to let them know,they did this awhile back to my niece when they had the bad blueberries too(jeez),i guess because its a membership store the can see exactly who bought what.
Still looking for a a new chicken supplier...
 
chickenman

chickenman

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We take orders in spring $4.00 lb for whole chicken avg weight 6 lbs. dressed. My belief is I would pay $24.00 gladly if I found a source as good as mine. At that price I use every scrap of mest and the nutrition is many times greater than store bought. BTW how much for store bought, breasts s and or whole chickenn
 
ttystikk

ttystikk

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I wanted to get a chicken coop for fresh eggs. Y'all have helped me accelerate my decision!

So at what point can We The People have a government that cares more about us than the political contributions (CORRUPTION! Call it what it is! BRIBES!) from their corporate 'constituents'.
 
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kolah

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Do it Tty, start small, my neighbors gifted me 3 layer hens. I made a coop from old wood pallets and had some chicken wire laying around to fence in a 12'x12' area. I just bought a 4 month old Buff Orp (pullet) that should be laying very soon so I can keep the rotation going. I get 1-2 eggs every day. FRESH! I eat 1-2 dozen per week and plan to barter out with the leftover eggs. You'll need a bag of layer feed too (I splurge extra for the organic blend).

There's lots of breed (C-man will know more) I decided to go with the Buff Orpingtons as they are an old Heritage breed, friendly, good brooders, good in cold temps and great for laying and chowing down as well.

I have plans to make a chicken tractor later down the road...then two goats for milk.
 
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tngreen

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I didnt need to call them they already knew and by the way we were at costco last night and they sell the same FF chicken with the same plant codes on it!I talked with a costco butcher and he told me they really dont have a choice because they are the only big supplier.Stater bros did have some randall farms chicken but only leg/thigh quarters,were done with chicken until we can find a safe supplier locally,theres one good butcher shop about 10-15 miles from us so im gonna check them out when im over that way.They need a CSA for meat products,lol.

They do have CSA for meat, check out J&J Grassfed Beef if you're in CA. I am slowly converting to this myself, definitely takes time to convert old habits.
 
Seamaiden

Seamaiden

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That's a good tip, @tngreen, got a link perhaps? :D
 
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